Punta Arenas – Fish and chip capital city of Patagonia

 

Sadly the weather forecast was not conducive to trekking in Torres del Paine unless we waited for 4-5 days which we were not really keen on doing. The winds have been up to 120km/hr in the park, with rain and snow to quite low levels. We figured we did so well in the Fitz Roy region that we could use los vientos atras (the tail winds) to blow us south and we could use the time exploring lesser known areas.

Postscript – we received this in an email from some cycle tourers heading north:
We are back on P. Natales after a horroific stay in Torres del PAINe,
broken form, ripped cornea, etc etc We got hit by a gravel storm big
time and it send us tru the cement mixer!

So we left Puerto Natales with black skies behind us and blue skies ahead. We fair hummed along at 35km/hr till we had to turn a 90 degree corner.  We stopped for some food just before the turn and another customer reckoned on the winds dying at 6pm so we hung out in the warm for a couple of hours before committing ourselves to the southwest reach to Villa Tehelches. It was maybe our Spanish interpretation or maybe his weather forecast that was out as the wind gusts got stronger and our trail along the road very crooked as we were continually buffeted leftwards then corrected. We still managed our furthest daily distance of 160km – avg speed 25km/hr – why there aren´t wind farms here we do not know.

We met 2 cycle tourers who were making 20km a day and taking days to do what took us hours – many concede to the wind’s power and hitch or use a bus but these guys were determined (or crazy).

Our campsite for the night was a stall at the rodeo ground – kept us dry and sheltered thru the wet and windy night and next morning the winds had dropped and we had a pleasant couple of hours cruising with the wind building again.

We passed signage of land mines – we had met previously a chap who was working with the Chilean government to sort out the issues of the fields of landmines that were placed in the 80’s in the conflict with Argentina over borders. Cows are getting blown up today and the lawyers, politicians and geographers are trying to sort out the problem.

We had hoped to make it to Punta Arenas (capital city of Patagonia) but the last 20km were too westerly, and the gusts too dangerous so we chanced upon a fantastic free camping area above a beach and looking out on the Straights of Magellan – wild white capped water. We were generously given some water from a work gang and had just enough food for the night and today we cruised into town and checked into our first hotel after 55 nights camping. Timing was great as breakfast was still on the table.